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China may be developing plans to take out US satellites from the moon, Space Force general says

Tom Porter   

China may be developing plans to take out US satellites from the moon, Space Force general says
  • China may be planning to take out US satellites from the moon, a US Space Force commander said.
  • Analysts are warning that China could be planning to use its power in space for military purposes.

China could be planning to attack US satellites from the Moon, a US Space Force commander said, amid growing US concerns about China's space program.

Defense One reported the comments from Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, commander of US Space Forces Indo-Pacific, who discussed China's lunar exploration program at a conference Monday.

"From a military perspective, I am curious about, are there attack vectors that we haven't considered or that we need to consider, whether it's xGeo or cislunar or otherwise?" Mastalir said.

XGeo is Space Force jargon for all of outer space beyond geosynchronous orbit, a point some 22,000 miles above the Earth's surface.

Cislunar refers to the part of space between the Earth and the moon.

Mastalir said that he remains most focused on potential conflict on Earth, but that China's moon strategy needed urgent consideration.

"For now I'd be more concerned just about what these new orbits, a moon presence—what that does for potential attack vectors to our traditional operating orbits," he said.

The US has thousands of satellites in orbit, which are used for a range of civilian and military purposes. It also has cislunar satellites used to monitor ballistic missile threats.

US officials are increasingly sounding the alarm about China's military plans in space. General Stephen Whiting, the head of US Space Command, at a congressional hearing in February said that China's military capabilities in space were growing at a "breathtaking pace."

China "is growing its military space and counterspace capabilities at breathtaking pace to deny American and allied space capabilities when they so choose," he said.

China has pushed back at the claims, with a spokesman in February accusing the US of making the accusations "as an excuse to expand its own military power," Bloomberg reported.

As part of China's growing space exploration program, it's aiming to take astronauts to the moon by the end of the decade. Some experts believe that China's exploration plans are really part of a strategy to claim ownership of the moon.

Richard Fisher of the International Assessment and Strategy Center recently told Newsweek last year that China could seek to use its presence on the Moon for economic and military purposes.

"From the moon, China can better surveil cislunar space and also station laser or missile systems to attack critical American satellites in deep space," Fisher told the publication.

But other experts believe Chinese control of the moon remains highly unlikely.

"If China assumes control over some part of the moon, it would be a risky, expensive and extremely provocative action," wrote R. Lincoln Hines, Svetla Ben-Itzhak in an article for Space.Com.

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